Spotlight on Nkandla upgrades

The Democratic Governance and Rights Unit (DGRU) has been playing a role in raising public awareness around “Nkandlagate”.

DGRU research is focused on promoting access to information, theory and practice in South Africa. As part of this, in the Mail & Guardian’s court case for access to information on security upgrades to President Zuma’s private home in Nkandla, the unit made an amicus curiae submission (unsolicited information by a non-party to the lawsuit to assist the court).

The upgrades have come under intense scrutiny and criticism over the alleged non-accountable use of taxpayers’ money for private interest. The newspaper’s application for information had been declined, with the argument that Nkandla was one of South Africa’s national key points and that disclosing the information would threaten national security. The DGRU submission contained comparative research on National Key Points and historical instances of denying access of information on the grounds of national security and secrecy arguments in South Africa and abroad.

At the end of April 2014, the Pretoria High Court found in favour of the Mail & Guardian, ordering the Minister of Public Works to provide the newspaper with a full set of documents regarding the Nkandla upgrade.

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